As political pundits spin their ideas on who won tonight’s Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, viewers from the Tampa Bay area offered their own opinions.
“To me, it comes across as quite a bit of a draw,” said Josh Burgin, treasurer for the Hillsborough County Republican Party. After Newt Gingrich’s win in the South Carolina Primary, “Romney is trying to get in there, and he’s definitely on the full attack.”
Burgin said that he didn’t have a favorite candidate or see a clear winner in tonight’s debate, which took place on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa.
“I’ll be tuning in again … It’s by no means finished business.”
Central Pasco Republican Club vice president Sandy Graves did have a favorite going into tonight’s debate, and her mind wasn’t changed by what she heard.
“Still a Romney supporter,” she wrote in an email following the debate. “Romney is the only one with private business experience ... more than the rest combined."
Graves questions Gingrich's experience and stands on the issues, as well.
"Newt has always worked for the government, as a professor and then as a congressman," she wrote. "He didn't go home to Georgia after being ousted by his party, but stayed in Virginia as a lobbyist and fought sometimes (on) non-conservative issues, such as global warming, with Nancy Pelosi. His association with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are a problem also.”
Ron Paul had his share of supporters on the USF campus.
“I think Ron Paul held his own," said Chris Haag of Maryland. "That’s who I am here to support.”
USF student Brandon Ladia was disappointed in the amount of air time Paul was given.
“I would have liked more from Ron Paul," Ladia said. "He wasn’t given enough screen time.”
Ladia says he supports Paul for his “pro-Constitution ideals.”
Norman Shafer of Wesley Chapel holds firm in his support of Paul.
“I still believe in Ron Paul," he said. "He is the most sensible.”
Largo resident Ed Brabant didn't say which candidate he favored, but he had a few opinions to share.
“There was not much substance to the questions. Why didn’t they talk about real issues?”
Carolyn Hankins of Thonotosassa was a little turned off by Romney's performance.
“I didn’t like how it seemed that Romney was on the attack," she said. "Why doesn’t he promote what he would do rather than put people down? ... Gingrich takes me back to the good old days of (Ronald) Raegan.”
Matt Voscinar, a USF student, had his own spin on the night, as well.
Voscinar was unable to get inside the tent to view the debate on television. However, “it was pandemonium” just outside of the tent where opposing groups gathered. “It was nice to see different groups of people argue — that meant they were active.”